Is Patient Care a Repeatable Process and Can It Benefit from System Improvements?

headshots-daleIn my eight years at ProModel, I have come to appreciate the serious talent of our consultants.  I think they are one of our greatest assets and bring tremendous value to our customers.  When I really want to get the scoop on a project, I turn to one of them and they explain the very complex nature of our projects to me in a way I understand and appreciate.  One of these talented consultants is Dale Schroyer.

Dale is a first time grandfather, which in itself is a new challenge. As he said “Its old, but its new.  In his work as a Promodel Consultant Dale travels a great deal, however he does not really get to see or enjoy the places to which he travels.  So he and his wife have decided to start traveling and just this year they took their first vacation to Italy and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Next on their bucket list is another trip.  They are deciding between Alaska or the British Isles.

When I last spoke with Dale he was attending the NPSF Patient Safety Congress, in Scottsdale, Arizona one of those may places he visits but doesn’t really get to see. He was happy to be in 80-degree sunshine after weeks in cool, cloudy Massachusetts. One of the programs Dale attended at the NPSF conference was an emersion workshop on RCA or Root Cause Analysis.

This program looked at what hospitals do when an adverse event occurs.  Usually such events occur because of system faults or failures, not necessarily human error.  The challenge is determining what the faults in the system are, how they can be fixed and instituting actions to fix them and measure those fixes.  Dale found it a fascinating topic because of its similarities to what is done in the Aerospace industry in which he started his career.  The instructors were Dr. James P. Bagian and Mr. Joseph M. DeRosier, one of whom is from the Aerospace industry.  Both teach at the University of Michigan which is Dale’s alma mater.  Dale spoke with them about simulation as a tool to determine hospital system shortfalls.  They mentioned that the barriers to simulation are many and often the learning curve is long and cumbersome.  Dale discussed using ProModel’s Process Simulator which can be an easier way around those barriers, since it is a simpler, Visio based tool.

As most of the attendees at the conference were nurses, doctors and an eclectic mix of engineers, what Dale observed in talking and listening to many of them is that healthcare does not consider itself a process or system industry. At this year’s conference, conversations were being started around this very issue.  The fact that doctors and nurses were having the conversation is a considerable step in the right direction.  Many in attendance wanted to know what techniques would best serve them in convincing their coworkers back home that the system approach is a good and necessary one for the healthcare industry that can benefit patients, hospitals, nurses and physicians.

Dale has over 20 years as an improvement consultant in the healthcare field at ProModel and Baystates Healthcare. One of his most significant consulting engagements for ProModel has been at Robert Wood Johnson.  In this multi-year engagement, ProModel and Dale served as a trusted advisor.  It was a project that did not just cover one unit of the hospital, but dealt with the whole evolution of the OR Suite.  It was not just the building of a single model, but a collaborative work with positive and rewarding results.

Part of what makes Dales so good at his job is the fact that he loves tackling new challenges.  Working for ProModel guarantees that each day will be very different from the last.  He will meet new people in a new environment and tackle a new problem.  The first step he generally takes when starting a new project is to spend a lot of time listening to those with whom he will be working.  He needs to understand their environment and what he must do as a ProModel expert to yield them tremendous value.

Dale just earned a Data Scientist certification. The program he completed was from Johns Hopkins and required the completion of 9 courses along with a capstone project. His capstone focused on natural language processing and it brought all of the elements of the other 9 courses together and applied them in a new and fascinating way.

As Dale and I closed our conversation, we were both wondering how others in the Healthcare Community felt about his notion that Healthcare is not a process or system industry.  We, of course, disagree.  What do you think?

We would be happy to hear your opinion about this notion.  Comment below or email me at ezohil@promodel.com.  To recommend whether Dales should visit Alaska or the British Isles, email him at dschroyer@promodel.com.

Interested in learning more about ProModel consulting, check out: http://www.promodel.com/Services/Consulting, or consulting@promodel.com.

 

 

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